University of Portsmouth astronomer wins prestigious award

Image of a galaxy

Dr Collett's research is giving exciting new insights into how matter warps spacetime

  • 13 January 2020
  • 2 min read

A University of Portsmouth rising star has been awarded a prestigious award in recognition of his work on strong gravitational lensing, which measures how dark energy is affecting the expansion of the Universe.

Dr Thomas Collett, from the University’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Winton Award for his promising career development in astronomy.

Doctor Collett said: “It is an honour to receive this award. It is a pleasure to know that my research is thought highly of by the Royal Astronomical Society.”

Thomas Collett

Dr Thomas Collett

Dr Collett’s research focuses on cosmological and astrophysical applications of strong gravitational lensing. In particular, exotic lensed systems: systems with multiple background sources, low and high redshift lenses, lensed supernovae and lensed quasars.

The Royal Astronomical Society citation says: “The productivity, range, and versatility of Dr Collett’s work at this stage of his career is striking. Dr Collett has been highly successful in obtaining new cosmological constraints on fundamental physics using lensing.

“He was able to measure the behaviour of dark energy with a double source-plane gravitational lens, which has established these objects as vital probes of cosmology in ways that largely avoid the usual problems of mass degeneracy. Recently, he has precisely measured the ‘gravitational slip’, describing how space and time are distorted by gravity.

“As well as this stellar research record, Dr Collett demonstrates the leadership, maturity and mentoring ability needed in a young researcher who will be a future leader of the research community.”

It is an honour to receive this award. It is a pleasure to know that my research is thought highly of by the Royal Astronomical Society.

Dr Thomas Collett, Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation

The £1,000 Winton Award is funded by the Investment House of that name in recognition of the skills provided to the financial services sector by trained astronomers and geophysicists.

Dr Collett was also recognised for his involvement in front-line collaborations. He leads the strong lensing group for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope’s Dark Energy Science Collaboration, which will be at the forefront of astronomy in the 2020s. Dr Collett’s expertise in statistical lens simulations and lens analysis will make him well placed to exploit the expected discoveries from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Euclid space telescope.

Director of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, Professor David Wands, said: “Tom's research is giving exciting new insights into how matter warps spacetime. We are delighted he has received this fantastic accolade and that his work is being recognised by the wider astronomical community.”

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